5 Things Every Web Writer Should Know
One of the revolutionary and socially satisfying aspects of the web is that anyone can publish content. We have seen bloggers, YouTube performers, and other social media users become famous and even wealthy, all through their self-motivated web publishing. They have bypassed traditional publishing channels and have become successful on their own, thanks to this technology that somewhat levels the playing field.
Unfortunately, there is another side to the story, one that is dark and frightening for those who cling to traditional forms of publishing. Far too many of those who write for the web do so with little regard for the techniques that make writers good at their craft.
A portion of those writers do not care and will continue to shovel drivel onto the web to fuel their cheap marketing and spamming enterprises. For the rest of us, we accept constructive criticism and are always looking for ways to improve our writing. The following tips are for the latter, and although I am not a perfect writer by any stretch of the imagination, I have written enough to pick up a few pointers along the way.
1. Spell check will not replace a real editor. True story: I once wrote a book and put the word “feat” every time I meant to write “feet”. I know how to spell both words and when to use them correctly, but for some reason, my mind was just out of whack.
For those of you who have access to editors, even amateur proofreaders, you are fortunate and should take advantage of those resources. But for many bloggers, neither time nor finances afford them the luxury of sending off their works to editors. Therefore, it is crucial that you proofread and even rewrite your work whenever necessary. Do whatever helps: reading to yourself out loud, writing it once and then rewriting, or previewing it on the actual website and then reading it with a visitor’s eyes.
2. Intro+Body+Conclusion = Article. Your English teacher taught you this, and it still holds true today. There are certainly exceptions, especially if you have a quick blog post, like a one-liner, but for full-featured content, you need to use the tried and tested formula. Why? It is not so much a technical issue as it is a practical one.
People need to be hooked in order to convince them to keep reading, and the introduction serves that purpose. Furthermore, as corny as it sounds, we all need closure. A conclusion brings a close to the reading. A written work without a conclusion is like a TV show that gets prematurely canceled and ends with a cliffhanger.
3. Write Professionally. Potentially anyone or everyone could see your writing when it is on the web. Under most circumstances, that means you should write with a degree of professionalism that is appropriate for the topic. Overusing contractions, slang, and Internet abbreviations are sure wasy to make yourself look like a teenager with a blogging hobby.
4. Write about what you know. It helps to be an expert in the field you are writing about, but it is not absolutely necessary if you have performed sufficient research. It is embarrassing and can even be costly when you publish false or inaccurate information. People who read your work expect it to be sound and reliable.
Invariably, you will make mistakes, and it is important to correct them as soon as possible. That is one advantage over print publishing that should help you keep your content accurate, using as many revisions as you need.
5. Write for your audience. If your audience is an organization of academics, feel free to use big words and technical jargon. It will show them you know your subject. But if you are writing for the general public, keep your writing at a 7th or 8th-grade level, easy enough for people to give a light read and be done with it. They should not have to stop and look up your words in the dictionary.
There is an artistic element to writing, and if you chose to become a writer because people always told you how good you were when you were younger, it may have been because of your artistic ability. Nevertheless, there is more to writing than just art. There is a science to conveying language well, and it is not always a matter of precisely following the rules. Your writing should be interesting, concise, well written, and capable of delivering a lasting message to your readers.
Tavis J. Hampton is a web writer with over a decade of experience in writing, information services, and Linux system administration, relying on only quality web hosts like web server company 34SP.com.